A fun essay by Dennis Overbye. I love it when science finds itself forced to confront first principles, it happens all too rarely. Often, scientists are like these lonely dwarfs, chipping away at the end of some tunnel that has wound down into some truly esoteric schist. If I try and pull them up to the surface to talk about how the little gems and fossils they’ve found contribute to the big picture, the stumble around in a kind of dazed cranky fashion, as if they are overwhelmed by the scale, aggravated by the light. Of course there are those scientists who have the disposition to do the small-scale chipping (the only way to make real progress) and also to pull back at the end of the day and think about what it all means, and why (or if) we should be digging in that spot at all. People like Stephen Jay Gould – cheers to them.